There has been the most remarkable event happening across the UK today and I am wondering whether anyone else has seen it? Not the 'Other Stuff' but something else entirely, something guaranteed to refocus perspectives perhaps.
Silent groups of soldiers, each representing one of those who lost their lives on the first day of the Battle of the Somme and the whole project top secret and unannounced to retain an element of surprise. At some locations the soldiers burst into song, the words 'We're here because we're here' repeated to the tune of Auld Lang Syne.
Having decided to award ourselves a Day Away From the News, Bookhound and I headed into Plymouth. We thought there might just be some commemorations for the Somme Centenary happening and I have also been hankering after seeing John Piper's stained glass in St Andrew's Minster in Plymouth now that I have read Frances Spalding's excellent biography John Piper Myfanwy Piper Lives in Art. We have only lived here for forty years, for some time barely five minutes distance, but with no idea it was there.
But as we approached Derriford roundabout, near to the city's main hospital, we saw this and I scrabbled around for my camera...
We met their gaze and they looked right at us and through us which was slightly unnerving. At first we were slightly confused, then it dawned on us.
One hundred years ago, soldiers had left from every village, town and city and on this day over 19,000 of them would die..
Like many the Devonshire Regiment suffered heavy losses on that day and this evening our local TV news had filmed at the cemetery near Mametz in France where the soldiers lie, buried in their trench on the edge of the woodland. The inscription at the Devonshire Cemetery there might be the most moving words I have heard today...
The Devonshires held this trench.
The Devonshires hold it still.